There is no doubt that parenthood changes relationships; many couples reject the idea of having a baby because they are afraid their relationship will be affected. Less time spent together, having to take care of someone who is completely dependent on you, and the need to cover for extra expenses make any mom or dad-to-be feel worried.
But let me tell you something: your relationship will change anyway.
Everything transforms as time goes by, and so do relationships, no matter if you have children or not. And there’s a different way to look at the problem – yes, becoming a parent will change the relation you have with your partner, but it does not necessarily need to be a bad change, if you know how to cope with it.
Are you ready for the challenge of becoming a parent? Here’s what to expect and how to get over the most common pitfalls:
Unresolved issues in your relationship reappear
A new baby puts an extra strain on your relationship, and issues you have been sweeping under the rug suddenly reappear, exactly when you don’t need conflicts and have less time and energy to manage them. It’s important to discuss and deal with these problems before the baby arrives – pregnancy is the moment to balance and strengthen your relationships and get prepared for difficult times.
The quality of communication changes
Many couples experience decreased marital satisfaction during the transition to parenthood because the quantity and quality of their communication both decrease. It becomes more difficult to talk spontaneously as topics like childcare become more important and prevail over others.
The only cure is to make an effort and find the time needed to reconnect every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Think of an activity you could give up so you communicate with your partner – instead of spending time on social networks or obsessing over minor housekeeping stuff, choose to spend some valuable time with your partner.
The baby becomes the center of your world
A common mistake that many new parents make is investing all their energy in the new baby. The most important topics become doctor appointments, getting the baby’s room ready, and even looking for preschools. After the baby’s arrival, new issues arise and they continue to become more important than your relationship.
There are some things that new parents need to understand though: your baby doesn’t need you 24/7, you cannot make things perfect, and, above all, having a healthy relationship with your child depends on the relationship you already have with your spouse. Your marriage or relationship should stay at the base of your new family, so remember to invest time in it as well!
You have higher expectations from your partner
As a new parent, you become more demanding with yourself because you want to offer the best to your child, and you start having higher standards for your partner as well. Many fathers feel that whatever they do to help with kids or housekeeping, it’s never enough. Give up the consuming determination to get everything right and understand that good is better than perfect, which doesn’t even exist, after all.
Giving your baby everything he or she requires to be happy and healthy is simpler than you think; and what the new member of the family needs, above all, is two parents who love each other and have a strong relationship.
By the Couple Clinic, a company of Winnipeg couples counsellors (www.winnipegcouplesclinic.ca).
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